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Aníkúlápó the movie. Beyond the entertainment.
Beyond the powerful and one-in-a-lifetime kind of love story in which the movie titled Aníkúlápó is woven around are pearls of ancient…
Beyond the powerful and one-in-a-lifetime kind of love story in which the movie titled Aníkúlápó is woven around are pearls of ancient wisdom that must be further explored in an attempt to explain our current world, and the controversial issues that appeared to have been settled in ancient times but has now become a new problem in the modern age.
The Yoruba Spirituality of Ifa
The movie Aníkúlápó was inspired by Chapter 65 Odu Ifa Idin Osun.
The Ifa corpus is classified as one of the rare intangible heritage of mankind. It has been designated by UNESCO as one of the heritage of mankind that must be protected. Afolayan revealed how the ancient method of predictions was not just a spiritual text but a moral storybook with a bottomless wealth of knowledge and source of inspiration. Contrary to the belief of some who has never read the ancient book of wisdom, the mysticism and esotericism associated with Ifa is a facade because it’s a book that everyone should read daily to improve our humanity.
Yoruba Culture of Urbanization and Cosmopolitan cities:
The people of OYO Ile and the customs of OYO
Afolayan’s execution of the cosmopolitan nature of the Yoruba captures the spirit of what Prof. Akin Ogundiran termed the intrinsic propensity of the Yoruba to dwell in Urban centers, at a time when most civilizations were still very exclusive and non-cosmopolitan. OYO, the Yoruba military empire of the time was welcoming and often offer support to her immigrants. The immigration-friendly OYO still maintains her cosmopolitan nature till today, the South Western part of Nigeria where OYO fell after the creation of Nigeria remained the most diverse region in the country.
Yoruba industrialization and work ethic
The vastness of OYO Ile was associated with the booming trades and the many innovations, her expansion of the region, as well as her tenacity in levying neighbouring kingdoms. Afolayan was able to showcase the Yoruba workers’ hard at work with Iron Smithing, Pottery, Cloth Weaving, Indigo Making, Construction of Homes, Food Processing, Bead Making and the dynamism of a Yoruba marketplace. The success of OYO was largely driven by the industrialization ability of her citizens, which created a vibrant economy that people were drawn to for success. The mention of Iseyin as the most skilled in the art of cloth weaving was subtle, yet with deeper relevance in the history of the Yoruba.
The concept of taxation of the neighbouring city-state was also briefly shown as one of the themes. One would argue that the details of this were not effectively elaborated. The Nupe Kingdom was at different stages in Yoruba history a foe and an ally at other times. While OYO was an expansionist kingdom, her mechanism of expansion did not involve dehumanization and kingdom destruction but rather enforced taxation and diplomatic political manoeuvre that allowed her to control other State’s Sovereignty without actual occupation.
Ogundiran, A. (2012). The Formation of an Oyo Imperial Colony during the Atlantic Age. In J. Monroe & A. Ogundiran (Eds.), Power and Landscape in Atlantic West Africa: Archaeological Perspectives (pp. 222–252). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511921032.012
The Iwofa system: periodic servitude and the position of OYO on Slave Trade
The concept of the Iwofa system was carefully addressed by Afolayan as well as its detriments on the young ones that may be affected by such. The movie was able to show the difference between a person that was in Iwofa position Vs an enslaved person that would be condemned to lifetime servitude and never had the opportunity to see their family again.
OYO attitude to the slave trade was also depicted, no record till today showed any Alaafin participation in selling any Yoruba into slavery, nor in selling any human beings into slavery, rather it was unscrupulous people in the society that were conniving with the white foreigners to carry out slave raids as reported.
OYO understood that a child is a future and when sold into slavery they are lost forever.
Female independence and Role of women in society
The Alaafin palace showcased both male and female chiefs who were not silenced in voicing their opinions.
Female sexual freedom and the definition of morality were also stretched by the impeccable role of Awarun by the multi-talented Sola Sobowale. The concept of the relationship of a younger male with an older female and the concept of power, money and sex was beautifully executed in a way that is still reminiscent of what has persisted in society today but is misnamed as “Sugar mummy”. The Yoruba women’s ability in controlling commerce in Yorubaland was silently displayed, and their role in putting orders in place in the marketplace and the home front was exemplified by Olori Agba — Ronke Ojo.
The Yoruba Family
Polygamous family dynamics in the Yoruba of ancient were demonstrated. The separate courts of the women showed the need for a man to have meant before he can venture into polygamy. This was shown with the Alaafin courts and Aníkúlápó courts.
The Yoruba identity
The face scarifications and mode of dressing were used extensively in the movie which speaks to the cultural significance of these identity markers. While the Yoruba had largely moved away from facial scarifications, the practice served its purposes at the time, a stranger to the community could be easily identified and his/her origin can be deciphered based on the pattern of the face scarifications. Successful cosmopolitanism of the Yoruba relied on some of these practices as it allowed for easy identification. The Yoruba outfits were also very distinct and iconic.
The Yoruba governance structure
The government structure and orderliness of the Yoruba society, with an organized security system, and system of intelligence gathering were quietly displayed as well. However, it could be argued that details of this important aspect of the Yoruba could be further elaborated.
Overall, Kunle Afolayan’s masterpiece Aníkúlápó is an evergreen movie that will be the talk of the movie industry for ages. The movie could have displayed more of the power of Alaafin as well as the strength of OYO Ile at the time of its peak reign of the OYO empire, however, Afolayan was trying to tell a powerful love story which was not about Alaafin himself but that of his Olorì, Arolake. We give thanks to OLODUMARE for the success of the movie. We believe that nomination of this movie for the Oscar is needed, it’s the first of its kind to give the world a glimpse of pristine African culture as opposed to refined and often misinterpreted representations from Hollywood. The Yoruba are a globalized people by the Maafa event of the transatlantic slavery, it’s important to showcase this vibrant and resilient culture because it is indeed a World Culture that has continued to evolve and become more embraced throughout the world.